Abstract 4120: Habitual Chocolate Consumption is Associated with Improved Arterial Elastic Properties and Central Hemodynamics
Objective. Flavonoid-rich chocolate has been shown to improve endothelial performance, but its impact on blood pressure (BP) is inconsistent. The effect of habitual chocolate consumption on arterial elastic properties and central (aortic) hemodynamics, which are important predictors of cardiovascular risk, has not been investigated.
Methods. We examined 178 healthy subjects (mean age 40.8 years) with no cardiovascular risk factors or disease, except for smoking. Chocolate intake was quantified with a dietary questionnaire, and subjects were assigned in groups of non-consumers, low consumers (< 12 g/day - median value) or high consumers (> or = 12 g/day). Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) was measured as an index of aortic stiffness. Aortic augmentation index (AIx) and aortic BPs were assessed using applanation tonometry of the radial artery.
Results. Increasing intake of chocolate was associated with a decrease of central systolic BP (P<0.05) and of central PP (fig A⇓), but not of central diastolic or peripheral (brachial) BPs. There was an inverse relation of chocolate consumption with AIx and PWV (fig B⇓). AIx was significantly lower in subjects with high chocolate consumption (Bonferroni P<0.01), whereas both low and high consumers had decreased PWV values (P<0.05 and P<0.01) compared with non-consumers. In multivariate analysis, increasing chocolate intake was an independent determinant of low PWV values (ANCOVA P<0.01) and low AIx (P<0.01), after controlling for potential confounders.
Conclusions. Habitual chocolate consumption of more than 12 gr per day is associated with improved arterial elastic properties and aortic hemodynamics in healthy individuals.